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JM^3 02-02-2005 20:32:02

How would you write a letter of recommendation?
One of my students asked me for one. The last time I was asked, I sort of put it off until the student found someone else. I would like to help this student out though.

I don't know him well, and have never written a letter of recommendation before.

He was, however, a good student. And was active and interested in lab.

Jon Miller

zmama 02-02-2005 20:35:27

Start with that...
What is the letter of recommendation for?

miester gandertak 02-02-2005 20:35:39

didn't read it but maybe .......

MDA 02-02-2005 20:35:53

Tell him to write one for himself and give it to you to sign and mail.:)

Japher 02-02-2005 20:36:17

I just asked my old boss to write me one, and I asked him the same question.

I have no idea.

JM^3 02-02-2005 20:36:46

his portfolio?

I don't know, doesn't sound like anything I ever asked for

(and I would never have asked a TA who had only had me for class for one semester, and that being a lab)


JM^3 02-02-2005 20:37:24


Originally posted by MDA
Tell him to write one for himself and give it to you to sign and mail.:)
He basically did that, I don't feel right about that.

Jon Miller

miester gandertak 02-02-2005 20:38:05

and again...

JM^3 02-02-2005 20:38:42

this is what he sent me:

January 30, 2004
To whom it may concern,
Please consider this letter to be my strong recommendation for Marcus Cato. I have had the opportunity to associate with Marcus on a professional level. As a teaching Assistant, my observation of him revealed knowledge, enthusiasm and a high expectation for learning.

He demonstrated a strong commitment to the class and the ability to work independently as well as in groups. Marcus has demonstrated the intellectual capacity along with the practical ability to be successful in the Industry and graduate education.
He is self-directed and self-supervising and has given his utmost to ensure the success of anything he is assigned to work on. I would be happy to work with him in any professional endeavor at any time.
I would be happy to answer any questions you may have about my association with Marcus at your convenience. I may be reached at home at (301) 562-5665 or at work at (301) 240-2809.
Thank you,
Your Name
8371 S 3220 W
West Jordan MD 20784

zmama 02-02-2005 20:40:13

Then rewrite it in your own words

MDA 02-02-2005 20:41:45

Well, if he suggested it himself, I'd feel the same. Wouldn't hurt to use is as a template, it will at least tell you what he is interested in communicating in the letter. Don't say anything you're not comfortable saying though. You're staking a little of your reputation on his ability to do the job you recommend him for (not always, but why risk it?).

Ask someone else to spellcheck and proofread it, whatever you do. :p

Way to publish his name on the internet. You may want to edit that out.

Japher 02-02-2005 20:41:56

"He basically did that, I don't feel right about that."

If you agree with what he wrote it seems to me that there is no problem with that.

zmama 02-02-2005 20:42:42

Yes , please at least post it here...

Japher 02-02-2005 20:43:43

does zmama predict comical value?

miester gandertak 02-02-2005 20:44:20

Cool, JM worked with cato.

I love that chinese butler inspector Clouseau had.

MDA 02-02-2005 20:45:02

Including specific examples makes the recommendation seem a little more genuine. That one looks like its right out of the China/India school of cookie cutter recommendations for admission to US schools.

e.g., in what way did he "show strong commitment to the class"?

zmama 02-02-2005 20:46:29


Originally posted by Japher
does zmama predict comical value?
Better ask the magic 8 ball. I'm thrifty, not psychic :D

sleeping_satsuma 02-02-2005 21:01:45

I would certainly take out the part about being willing to associate with him in any endeavour at any time. makes it sound like you love him.

Why not say something like-

Dear Doctor Evil,

I would like to recommend Marcus for your blah blah course.
As a student I have found him to be (insert good characteristics like helpful/personable/hard-working etc) to work with, and he shows great enthusiasm, dedication and willingness to learn
He has demonstrated that he is skilled at (insert scientific nonsense eg nuclear weapons making, making bunsen burners go green, and turning lead into gold). I feel that Marcus represents a solid addition to any team, as well as a conscientious independent worker.

Please contact me if you would like to discuss his performance further.

Yours, Jonathan 'crazy love machine' Miller

Sounds a bit less sucky.

Provost Harrison 02-02-2005 21:08:20


Originally posted by zmama
Then rewrite it in your own words

zmama 02-02-2005 21:14:53


Lurker 02-02-2005 21:59:47

Jesus Christ use someone else's name, too. And if you do use your own name, spell it right.

JM^3 02-02-2005 23:07:52


Originally posted by MDA

Way to publish his name on the internet. You may want to edit that out.

Where did I say that was his real name?

Jon Miller

Funkodrom 03-02-2005 09:21:02

Change the bit that says "Your Name" to Jon Miller.

HelloKitty 03-02-2005 12:32:58

If he is asking for a med school recommendation from you make sure he is aware taht TA recommendations are AT BEST considered nuetral. If they are 100% positive froma TA they will look ignore it, if they are negative at all, they will hurt the student.

His best bet is to speak tot he instructor of the course and get them to agree to sign or countersign a recommendation you write for him. That steps it up a little or nicely if your name and position are not on the letter.

As for what to put in the recommendation, if he was a good student and is applying to a US program, make the recommendation GLOWING. Because of our silly legal laws a single, even constructive, critizism on a recommendation is considered a warning sign.

If he is apply to an overseas program be completely honest. They will take it at face value and want a little insight about the student and their strengths and weaknesses.

I would ask the student for a copy of their resume/CV, the official reccomendation forms that your career center uses or that the place the person is applying is going to, and then just write some BS since it is sealed anyway.

I have a nice form recommendation I use, change around a bit so that some personal info is in it and I can knock out a recommendation a full typesd page in an hour.

I have to do one tomorrow for agirl who wants to study in Barcelona for a year and found out it was due the 4th, not the 15th.

Drekkus 03-02-2005 12:47:56


Originally posted by zmama
Then rewrite it in your own words

MDA 03-02-2005 12:53:08


Originally posted by JM^3
Where did I say that was his real name?

Jon Miller

Hey, it was an honest mistake! :p

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